As Barbados celebrates its 46th anniversary as an independent nation, it is the ideal time for workers across the length and breadth of the island, to quiz themselves as to what they could do to better contribute to the success of the nation.
The nation is confronted with the burning issue of the declining level of productivity of the workforce. The collective output which represents the nation’s gross domestic product, is important to the annual income the island generates.
In a competitive global environment, Barbados must be able to earn its way. With the virtual demise of the sugar cane industry, it relies heavily on generating a high level of business primarily through the sale of services, to earn needed foreign exchange. Inasmuch that the island has no natural resources, it depends on the capacity and capabilities of its human resources to deliver the services required.
As a consequence of this, there is the requirement that the Barbadian workforce becomes more mindful of what is expected of it, and of the value attached to its efforts. In a society where a premium is placed on the education of its people, where provision is made for free primary, secondary and tertiary education, no one should allow the opportunity to escape them to develop their knowledge, skills and competencies. Following upon the acquisition of these, the next step should be to utilise them in ways that contribute to the overall national productivity.
There are countless ways in which individuals can make significant contributions to the economic development of Barbados. Barbadians are credited with being highly literate. It is to be presumed that they are well prepared to become more creative and innovative. It is about time that our people believe more in themselves create and/or seize available opportunities to make their mark, and develop a more entrepreneurial approach.
None of this will happen unless there is the general will to drive this new thrust. In this regard, the focus has to be changed from the existing culture that promotes an import regime; which in turn drives wholesale and retail business. A demand must be created on the open market for goods and services produced in Barbados.
This is important if the island is to earn higher levels of foreign exchange, and create new avenues of employment. Going forward into the 47th year of Independence and marching onwards to the celebration of fifty years, the time is right for a decisive shift.
The call for alternate sources of energy, the need to address the matter of food security and the demand for new technologies, are but a few areas that ought to be explored, towards finding new ways and opportunities that are aimed at broadening the horizons, with respect to improving the various productive sectors of the economy. This is unlikely to happen unless there is the impetus to drive it.
Against the call for entrepreneurship, there is the reality that entrepreneurship has to be driven by support financing. Within the post-Independence era, the importance of small businesses to the growth of the economy has been recognised but alas, the financial support for this sector has neither allowed for its enhancement and growth of the sector.
Based on the support mechanisms required, the level of success to be achieved by those who take on the challenge to be creative and innovative may not finally rest with them. However, there are a few things that all workers can pledge to uphold in helping the nation to increase its output and to earn foreign exchange. It is strongly recommended that workers pledge to improve on their productivity, work ethic and efficiency. Improvements in attendance to work, late arrival, customer service, personal attitudes and the timely delivery service, all combined, will make a decisive difference.
* Dennis De Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.
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